You’d be mistaken for thinking that Goa’s all about the beaches and beats. Beyond the world of Sunburn and Supersonic, there’s a plethora of options to explore this verdant and vibrant state. Think of this as a sampler to set you on a voyage of your own Goan discovery…
The ubiquitousness of psy trance beats across the shacks and restaurants in Goa can seem overwhelming at times. So if you’ve had your fill of psy and EDM beats, why not catch some great musicians? After all, Goa was the biggest exporter of musicians to the Bollywood music industry during its orchestra days and also contributed heavily to India’s once thriving jazz scene. Cavala’s in Baga is a great place to grab a couple of drinks and catch live music on weekends. Many actors, big and small stop by here to enjoy a fuss free time and say hello to the Marius, the owner. Then there’s the recently opened Cafe Lambretta on the Anjuna-Mapusa road, or the nights at Baywatch resort in Colva, run by the founders of the former artist enclave called Art Escape. If nothing else, catch a wedding band and jive on a song, or two.
Catch a rave at Hilltop
So it’s in the Lonely Planet, too but that speaks equally about Hilltop’s enduring legacy and its popularity among visitors to Goa. Befitting the name, the venue is located atop a hill in Goa. It draws patrons from across the board to its legendary Goa and psy trance parties. It definitely helps when the proprietor Starling D’souza, who took over from his father Steve, is a psy trance DJ himself. What that’s done is elevate Hilltop from just another open-air rave venue to a must-DJ spot for international and local psy trance DJs. In recent years, during the festival season Hilltop has also welcomed techno DJs and events into fold.
Find one of India’s most hidden underground clubs
Cirrus at Anjuna describes its location as ‘someway on the highway to Chapora’. That’s the closest you’ll get by way of directions to the venue. Ignatius Camilo aka Iggy the DJ, an excellent DJ and model, has set up the club in the style of Berlin-based institutions like Bar25 and Kater Holzig. It’s essentially a community-driven venue with great attention to details not just to the sound and decor but also to the environment. From organic honey and soaps to recycled materials, there’s plenty to admire here along with the world class line-ups of underground Indian and international DJs that Camilo and his wife Tasha Weinstein (who DJs under the moniker Fintushami) regularly put together.
Go to a museum of houses
Of all the museums in Goa, the Houses of Goa Museum is probably one of the most interesting structures. Resembling a ship, the building was built like a traffic island. Owner and known architect Gerard da Cunha has over the years tried to keep physical records of the amalgamation of Eastern and Western cultures that influenced architecture through the ages in Goa. Spread out over three storeys, the museum documents the influences of the locals and colonisers on each others building designs as well as the interior details like doors, windows, furniture and various house nick knacks. Gerard, being a big fan of late cartoonist Mario Miranda has dedicated on wing of the museum to the Mario gallery which houses his cartoons, sketches and various books and collectibles that can be purchased.
Check out the Saturday Night Market
Every Saturday during the season, this hill in Arpora comes alive with lights, music and hoards of visitors looking to shop, eat, drink and enjoy some music performances. More than a hundred stalls set up along the face of the hill sell souvenirs, clothes, shoes, silver jewellery, music and more. Pick fine handmade gold plated earrings, fire juggling merchandise or vintage sunglasses before heading off to the food court for a chilled beer and a choice international cuisines. The central square of the market stages live music acts with Remo Fernandes and Pt Ravi Chari among the many known guest performers. At the top of the hill, two corners are dedicated to dancing, one is a heavier trance bar while to the right end is a electronic music bar that serves delicious and highly effective mojitos.
Go Sea Kayaking in Palolem, South Goa
The coast in the southern half of the state is full of tiny coves and beaches. The cliffs that surround them, keep away harsh winds from passing through. The waters here are tame, with mild waves and make for a great sea kayaking spot. Stalls on the beach sell kayaks, paddles and will also teach you how to man your boat. With a few basic lessons, take to the calm waters and paddle your way to Butterfly Island nearby. Dock by the rocks and enjoy the turning shades of evening sunlight before returning to the main shore.
Eat at a Greek restaurant
Great food, spectacular beach view and staff who are knowledgeable and polite — Thalassa in Vagator is now the stuff of legend. It’s location adds to the charm. The cliff welcomes the sea, and curtains billow with the breeze. There’s pleasant world music whispering through the speakers. You’d be forgiven for thinking you’ve been transported to a Mediterranean resort.
Be part of a drum circle at Arambol beach
Spectacular sunsets at Arambol are made even more memorable with the symphony of locals and tourists on their drums playing in unison. The beats of various percussion instruments at Drum Circle are an aural and visual treat. Join the group with your own dholak or simply sit back on the sand and enjoy the impromptu jam sessions. Another great option while in Arambol at sunset is to join numerous others on the beach practicing yoga.
Go to an Organic/Spice Farm and also check out crocodiles!
While Goa’s beaches are amazing, it’s natural beauty also includes several rivers. And in this case, the River Sal has numerous spice and organic plantations. Here, the air is cleaner, there’s sweet spring water and delicious locally cooked organic meals. You can also club the visit with a crocodile watching boat trip or join an elephant trail that ends in a river bath.
Learn to surf
While Goa is no Hawaii or Gold Coast when it comes to waves, or even Varkala in Kerala, for that matter, there has been a steady rise of surf stations that dot the state. From Vaayu Waterman’s Village that offers all kinds of learning for adventure sports to Surf Wala in Arambol beach, where the waves are ideal for first timers, surfing is a glorious way to put yourself at the mercy of the ocean and come out on top. Once you can accomplish that, just think what you could do on the dancefloor?
Have a great Smirnoff Experience at Sunburn Goa
Image Credits: goadaydreamer, goastreets, tripadvisor, thegoavilla, globalgirltravels, tripadvisor, michaelpluznick, flickr, atlantiswatersports